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VOL. 133 | NO. 13 | Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Second Snow Day, The Post-King Generation and Cohen's Cadillac

By Bill Dries

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A second snow day awaits Wednesday on this short week for many but not all of us. And there is some grumbling about the approach to treating roads off the main thoroughfares that may, in this city where a cut-through detour is a real thing and the reason for speed humps, still see a lot of traffic.

City public works director Robert Knecht, in a webcast on the city’s site, says public works road crews are working 24 hours a day. “We are working nonstop,” he said of the roads mission. And he adds the brine treatment in advance of Monday evening’s snow made the situation much better. Trash collection, however, is suffering. Knecht says city crews are focusing on catching up on garbage carts for the rest of the week and will get to the recyclables and curbside stuff once they have tamed the carts.

There is also something else at play and that is the different kind of urgency in the work place around snow days with so many of us now able to work from home. Of course, the ability to work from home doesn’t mean all of us have necessarily adjusted to working at home even on a temporary basis. And for those who have to be at work and whose work puts them outside in these conditions this is truly hazardous. So a little less speed and a little more compassion goes a long way. It also allows you a chance to take a look around at a transformed landscape.

But enough about the weather… Tigers over the Huskies Wednesday 73 - 49 at FedExForum.

A realignment at FedEx that puts e-commerce and specialty logistics under the Trade Networks portfolio.

State Senate Republican leader Mark Norris of Collierville thinks his nomination to be a Memphis Federal Court Judge might not happen after all. And until or unless that happens, he is in Nashville tending to his legislative duties. Norris counts 51 Republicans in the U.S. Senate who vote on his nomination. But at a Republican caucus meeting in Nashville last week, Norris noted that some U.S. Senators are judging him on the Tennessee Legislature’s conservative record and not in a good way when it comes to his confirmation.

This isn’t the first time this has happened and you don't even have to go back a year. In fact, it happened on the other side of the aisle with the nomination of U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton toward the end of President Barack Obama’s term of office.

Back to Nashville, the Tennessee comptroller’s office out with a new report on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that shows the TBI has been using its reserves for four consecutive years to absorb budget cuts in the Haslam administration. This comes as the TBI’s role has stepped up in investigating police and law enforcement shootings across the state including here in Memphis.

There was a time when electrical supply companies were a highly visible part of the Downtown landscape. The Exxon at Poplar and Danny Thomas was once the site of Crown Electric, where a truck driver for the company was told by his father that he had to make a choice between playing guitar and being an electrician. Elvis Presley was probably more influenced by the other corner at Danny Thomas and Poplar where Poplar Tunes was in those days.

Just a few blocks away on Adams is a survivor of that era – Tennessee Valley Electric Supply Co. – on Adams between Fourth and Danny Thomas. TVESCO, as it is known, has sold for $800,000.

The Christ Community Broad Avenue Health Center has expansion and renovation plans with a federal grant.

As we move toward the April observances of the 50th anniversary of the sanitation workers strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, this MLK Day – the national holiday honoring King on his birthday – makes it more apparent than ever that the legacy of King and the movement he led and was a part of is transitioning from memory to influence.

When the National Civil Rights Museum was being planned in the late 1980s, Benjamin Lawless, the museum exhibition visionary from the Smithsonian Institution, who also worked on the NCRM, frequently noted that even by its opening in 1991 many of the museum’s visitors would have no first-hand memory of the events depicted in the museum. That’s the basic history of the era most of us identify with the civil rights movement.

More than a quarter century after the museum’s opening, at the excellent symposium the museum puts on every year with the NBA and the Grizz as the NBA plays its MLK Day Game here in Memphis, the voices were those who have scant to no first-hand memories of King. But King has nevertheless been a powerful presence in their lives both as children and as adults. It’s also worth noting that as Lawless saw the change coming in those judging and evaluating the history of the movement in their own day to day lives, many of King’s associates from the 1960s became increasingly vocal about his iconization. Their concern was that King would not be a relatable figure to the children and young adults of another time. The forum Monday is an indication that the times we live in today have made King not only relatable but relevant to those children who are now adults.

A new online home ownership survey from Chandler Reports, the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Co. Inc., shows more than half of those who responded think now is a good time to buy and 80 percent think this is a good time to sell.

Along with that new Chandler numbers for the year 2017 show a five percent increase in the average home sales price, compared to 2016. The volume of home sales is up 13 percent and most of the increase was in existing home sales with new home construction numbers down for the year. Arlington’s 38002 ZIP had the most new home sales. Every ZIP code in the county saw an increase in average home sales prices.

The Chandler numbers on mortgages show the market slowing in December but up 8 percent for 2017 over 2016. The December slowness is regarded as a holiday season pause.

Catching up on a few things from before and during the snow and ice and MLK Day observances:

Something finally happened on the courthouse steps with the city’s tallest building, which has had more than a few dates on the courthouse steps, all of which delayed the day of reckoning for the owner, IHM Memphis LLC. The 100 North Main Building has now been reclaimed by THM Memphis Acquisitions LLC, the lender of $2.8 million to IHM that IHM defaulted on. No word on what THM has in store for the 37-story part of the city skyline that has a lovely plywood mural around it and broken out windows at the top where there once was a roof garden and a restaurant that gave a rotating view of the city.

At least seven seats on the Shelby County Commission – a majority of the seats on the 13-member body – will change hands in the 2018 elections.

Funeral services Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Christ United Methodist for Jack Morris. Morris was a civic leader with considerable political skills who had many chances to make politics his full-time career. But he always stayed rooted in the business community. And those roots made him independent of the pressures that are inherent when elected office becomes how you make your living. In the 1980s, Morris was chairman and president of the Greater Memphis Chamber and chairman of the Memphis Light Gas and Water Division board. He was the first chairman of the MLGW board who was not also the president of the utility. He was elected to a single one-year term in the Tennessee Legislature. And he was among the business leaders who became active in the wake of E.H. Crump’s death to move the city out of the commission form of government.

Tommy Buford, the tennis coach from the University of Memphis who was the tournament director of the Memphis Indoor on the ATP tour and in general did a lot for the sport of tennis in this city, died over the weekend in Boise, Idaho.

Cong. Steve Cohen in Roll Call on the 1986 Cadillac he occasionally drives in D.C. to and from the Capitol. And in the process he quotes an Arthur Alexander song first recorded by Steve Alaimo and later by The Gentrys -- among others.

Atop the Memphis Newsmakers segment, Brett Batterson, the CEO of the Orpheum, talks about diversity in the city’s arts scene, the need for mentors and being Best Man.

PROPERTY SALES 50 226 2,557
MORTGAGES 44 145 1,731
BUILDING PERMITS 204 569 5,701